I was rolling over the idea of painting a kit, on which I'm mostly just practicing before I take on the pending heavy mando project, and had an idea. At first I just planned to do some weathered olive-colored plates. Now though, I had the idea to give a nod to Temuera Morrison's Maori heritage. I started looking for Moko patterns (a style of tattooing from the Maori) to stencil onto my armor. So far, I've thought up three ways to do stencils, and tried two of them. Already I know that there are pros and cons to each method I've tried, but I'll keep experimenting and give the results. I'm planning to try the other on the remaining plates, and I'll post here about the final products of each.
Method one: Lay out tape, sketch, cut, apply to plate, paint.
Method two: Lay out tape, Sketch, move to plate, cut, paint.
Method three: Tape plate, Sketch, cut, paint.
On all of it I started with masking tape. I laid out a lot of strips and overlapped them. Here it's important to overlap at least 1/8th of an inch, especially if you plan to cut the stencil first the put it onto the plate afterward. It's also important to use something non-porous so the tape doesn't get a good bond to that material. I know, masking tape is supposed to not bond well to anything, but better safe than sorry.
I started with a pattern I found online, pulled it up on my computer and free handed it onto the tape with a sharpie to make sure it didn't come off.
Then I cut out the excess. Here it's really important to use a fresh blade on your exact-o knife to make sure you get clean cuts and don't have to cut into the materiel underneath. Mostly though, that's something to consider when using method One or Two.
Then I had to go through the tedious task of moving the pattern from the sign I used as a backing to the armor plates. This is the big con of this method, moving the pieces makes it difficult to keep the spacing and positioning the same as when they are sketched, and there is a higher chance that the pieces will come apart on you (thus a lot of overlap is a good thing). The movement thing is not such a bad thing if you don't have a complicated pattern. the one I used was only 6 pieces, but a more complex pattern would be incredibly difficult. but here are the chest plates with stencil:
Which is why I changed my approach with the next stencil I did. I remembered a game that I absolutely loved from the PS2, "The Mark of Kri." Anyone that has played this game knows the main character is a tattooed Conan-esque warrior. What some might not know is that the tattoos, names, and one of the weapons in the game actually have roots in Maori culture. So for my gut plate (and maybe my back plate if I feel really squirrely) I decided to use a tattoo from the game. Specifically Rau's arm tattoo. It took me a while to find a good picture of Rau that featured the tattoo, but eventually I found one, blew it up and printed out the pic, then trimmed off what I didn't need.
Then I did the same tape up a sign thing and started sketching. I was a little skeptical that I could cut it out on the sign then move it, so I decided to move it before hand. One of the big difficulties with this stencil was it complexity and the issue of symmetry. I tried to do it freehand, but wasn't happy with the result so I laid down some tape sticky side up, traces, lined it up with the othe rhalf, stuck, traced again, and badda-bing!
I had to trim a lot off the edges when I put it on the plate, again to avoid distraction, and I think it turned out well. On top of that, aligning it to the plate I had to do a little blandly and I ended up repositioning it twice on the plate. But I did get it, eventually, and was ready to started the tedious process of cutting out the design.
I think it took me about an hour to cut this out with an exact-o knife. and now we come to the problems with this method. you have to cut on the surface you are working with. This shouldn't be a big problem if you use light pressure and multiple passes and since you are going to paint over the stencil and undercoat, but it can be frustrating to those perfectionists out there.
So there's what I have so far. Still have seven more plates at least to stencil and paint, probably more than that. I think I'm going to cut out shin armor and plates for the back of my hand, which would bump that number up to 11, tedious road ahead, but I might not stencil the diamond or the hand armor. For the back plate, I'm thinking about doing the big round assemblage of the six marks of Kri (for anyone who's played the game), though I'm hesitant because I plan to put a backpack on this kit and it would be covered up.
Questions? Comments? Criticisms?